What is a Gap Year and Should Pre-Med Students Take One?

The gap year is definitely something to consider when you’re a pre-med student on the cusp of entering medical school. There are faults and benefits to consider when you reach this stage. Some students take this period to reflect on their future while others use the gap year as a way to improve their chances for entering medical school. Despite the name, a gap year is any amount of time you want or need to take before entering medical school, you could skip the gap year altogether if you were so inclined. So why do students always question if they should or should not take a gap year?

The Benefits

There are numerous benefits to taking a gap year after pre-med college. This is a time for you to truly reflect on the things you’ve learned over the past four years and decide if this is the career you want to follow. The gap year happens to be the deciding period for most pre-med students; if they even want to go to medical school. You should take this time to question your motives as well. If you feel strongly about a different subject then there is no reason to put yourself through the trials and tribulations of medical school and the terror of transitioning to residency. On the other hand, you can also improve your medical experience by attending various summer internship programs and applying for roles at hospitals. Another option is taking easier classes to improve your overall GPA. Anything and everything you can do to make your medical school application glowing are worth investing your time in.

The Negatives

As opposed to the many benefits of taking a gap year, there is only one negative, if you ultimately decide to go to medical school. When you are actually applying to medical school the person that conducts your interview or looks at your application will wonder, “Why is there a gap?” A simple enough question, however, if you are someone that just wanted to relax and didn’t take the time to improve your GPA, gain experience, or study for the MCAT exam, that person will probably reject your application. This illustrates a lack of focus and dedication, an attitude that is unsuited for the rigors of medical school.

What You Should Take Away from a Gap Year

Taking a year or more can actually prove more beneficial than not. Ultimately, it’ better to take this time and get some hands-on experience in a hospital, medical research lab, or internship program. Not only will this look great on your medical school application but you will also gain valuable insight into the field and decide if this is the right career path for you.

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